Mexican Holiday Punch- Calientitos, Ponche Navideño
Calientitos, or Ponche Navideño, is a drink commonly prepared during the holiday season specifically Christmas. The aroma of this punch while is simmers on the kitchen stove is hypnotizing. With the blend of exotic fruits, cinnamon, clove, and sugarcane, this punch is sure to entice your guests and is the perfect drink to serve after a holiday feast. Set some aside for the children; they will love digging into the cup to get to the sweet fruit. A touch of brandy is optional but highly recommended for the adults. Try it – I know you will love it just as much as we do! Cheers and happy holidays.
*Makes approx. 10-12 cups
10 cups water, separated
1/2 cup hibiscus tea
3 pieces of tamarind pods, shell removed
8-10 guavas, washed with trimmed ends, and halved
6-8 tejocotes, edges trimmed skin peeled
1 orange, cut into quarters, skin left intact
1 red apple, chopped into small cubes
2 pears, chopped into small cubes
1 – 1 1/2 cups cubed, pealed sugarcane
7-10 pitted prunes, chopped
handful of raisins
3 or 4 cinnamon sticks
Brandy – optional
– Please note: 3 piloncillos is my suggested amount. This is to add sweetness to the punch so you may choose to add more or less, according to your taste. Also, you can use brown sugar is you can not obtain piloncillo in the Latin section of your grocery store but i highly recommend you use piloncillo. It gives it a warm, caramelized, earthy flavor!
In a large pot, add 10 cups of water, peeled tamarind pots, and hibiscus tea. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove from stove and strain out the hibiscus flower and tamarind. You should be left with a burgundy color liquid. Add the water back to the pot and set on stove.
Push the cloves into the skin of the orange peels. This is so you can find and remove them later. Add oranges and the rest of the ingredients into the pot. *If you are using Brandy, do not add it just yet. Wait until it is time to serve the punch and add Brandy to each individual serving.
Cover pot and let simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the piloncillo has dissolved. Stir very well to make sure the flavors and sugars combine.
Carefully remove cloves but return oranges to pot because they add flavor!
Note: the longer the punch sits, the more the flavors will infuse and deepen. Serve and add Brandy at this point if you prefer.